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01 January 2008


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William R. Cumming

Time to grow up and create a foreign policy in Afganistand, Pakistan and the middle east general recognizing tribal politics and differences. The old saw "Tribes flying flags of Nations" or something like that seems to be the essence of the 21st Century in this arena. Discussion of organizational factions without discussing tribal allegiances is almost a waste of time. Just as description of FBI culture is a no-go with discussion of the influence of Catholics and Mormons on the FBI culture.


David's comment reminded me of this recent ACW post on PALS technology sharing with Pakistan.

I would only add that assessing the vulnerability of US nuclear safeguards is exceedingly difficult to do from the outside since we are not privy to the vast majority of the data and information.

W. Patrick Lang

"Pat and Richard,

I apologize. I had no intention to express any contempt and/or disdain, other than for the idea that Benazhir was some sort of a pro-western democratic reformer and for the other side of the coin view that the Pak military and, especially, the ISI are evil allies of al-Qaedah and the Taliban. I don't think and didn't mean/want to imply that Richard has those views.

Pakistan presents a complex pile of problems with which any US Administration will need to cope. That job won't be facilitated by either the deification or the demonization of any side in the many sided mess that is modern day Pakistan. My concern is that the trend of commentary in the aftermath of Benazhir's murder is in that direction.

In that light, my intent in commenting on the claim that Benazhir had transferred responsibility for dealing with the Taliban from ISI to the Interior Ministry in 1993 was not to focus on the date of the alleged shift. I wanted to emphasize that, regardless of the date of birth, the parents of the Pakistani relationship with the Taliban were Benazhir/Babar and the Pak trucking "mafia," not ISI and the Army. This wasn't an ISI role that Benazhir took away from them. She and Babar were the authors and stars of the original production. Babar later complained that, once ISI ended up with the role, ISI wasn't as clever as he and Benazhir had been in playing it.




I agree with your characterization of what happened in 1994 and it also jives with Steve Coll's book. I would only add that in addition to trucking interests was petroleum - Bhutto wanted a pipeline from either Iran or Turkmenistan and eventually got a deal for one. Ironically, this is what prompted the Clinton administration to finally show real interest in the region through support of a UNOCAL pipeline project.

Additionally, Bhutto's intent for her second term was to focus on the economy which she believed would strengthen her base of support. To do that, she was more deferential to the ISI and Army because she didn't want to make unnecessary enemies.

Finally, it's important to note that during it's first couple of years, the Taliban was very popular and had a wide base of support which included Pashtun centrists and royalists like current President Karzai.

Clifford Kiracofe

Some new polling data out of Pakistan from World Public Opinion project at the University of Maryland:

"Most Pakistanis want Islam to play a larger role in Pakistani society. However, a majority also favors a more democratic political system, rejects ‘Talibanization,” and supports recent government efforts to reform the madrassah system by focusing more on science and mathematics. Majorities have little sympathy for Islamist military groups and most would like to see the Federally Administered Tribal Areas integrated into Pakistan.

The survey also found that Pakistani attitudes toward the United States are negative and that there is a growing perception that the United States is hostile toward Islam."

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